Never ride in mud again! But I loved it

JP QECP and muddy
JP QECP and muddy

I had said that I’d never ride in mud again. Of course there would be an exception – if I was in a race or on an epic ride (SDW) and it was raining then I’d just have to carry on. So it was with a sunken heart that Chris and I drove over to Queen Elizabeth Country Park to test out the new Scotts. It was pouring all the way and all day. The car park was flooded and the van could only get up the 1% grassy slope in reverse. It did not look good.

I changed, picked up a Scott Genius 920 and headed for the Red

JP & Nick Craig
JP & Nick Craig (Nick is stiil a top level XC and cyclocross rider and had one of the longest MTB pro careers of any one ever)

Run. The trail was easily identifiable as all we needed to do was follow the water. It had become a stream. And so the ride went on. I soon got into it, warm and (surprisingly) happy, I was off. The loop is approximately 5 miles but I need to check the Garmin. To me it resembled an “old school” cross county course and it took me back. I had raced there but each time in bone dry dusty conditions. To be honest, grinding away in the middle ring on a 130mm 29er I found the ride fairly tough. However, the bike with Schwalbe Nobby Nics got me up everything and felt as safe as it could be whipping through the berms on the descents.

I got back splattered and was itching to try the 650b Scott Genius 730, the carbon 720 was out. This lap seemed much quicker and easier despite the 730 being both heavier and having 150mm of travel. The main reason was familiarity with the course and the slightly more nimble handling of the smaller wheels and shorter feel of the wheel base. The 900s actually have a 14mm shorter wheelbase (axle to axle) but the 700s feel shorter due to the smaller wheel. I need to get the tape measure out.

Scott QECC
Scott QECC with Genius 730

I was even starting to think that I was getting quick but know that as soon as I find my Garmin I’ll appear slow, really slow compared with Gav, Will and Miles who rode there on Wednesday in bone dry and perfect conditions. I would recommend going there as the track is great and ride able despite the streams and puddles. It might get sticky as it dries out though. I wanted to do a final lap on the Scott Spark and then another with the Scale but, alas they had to pack up and it was still raining. Back in the day, one of the things that I really liked about racing a new course was the way that you got used to it. The rekky lap, you checked it out, the first lap you went as fast as possible but could do better, the second lap you begin to recognise bits and get a better line and the third lap you really start to get to know it and get some speed up. Those were the days.

The Red Run at QECP did seem a bit XC to me in the mud and rain but from what the boys told me, in the dry, it was a really fast, fun course and the Genii really came into their own. There’s enough there for everyone and some opportunities for airbourne antics of you can get enough speed up which was difficult in the wet.

I said that I’d never ride in mud again. But I loved it! Thanks to Scott (Cazza, Nick and Chris) for getting me out.

Here is the ride. My time for the red run looks terrible but it was very wet! If you take age into account, in other words missing out the 35s and under I am 22nd fastest. That means another visit when its dry to get myself up on the leader board. I’ll take Will along to chase.

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